By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
It's funny how something as little as fielding the ball cleanly can make a difference. But for the Havre fast pitch softball, fielding the ball is far from a little thing.
After struggling with defensive inconsistency early in the season, Havre put together its best defensive performance of the season in a 9-7 win over the Glasgow Scotties Tuesday afternoon at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Softball Field.
It was far from perfect as Havre committed three errors in the field and a few mental mistakes. But after watching her team average at least seven errors a game the last few weeks, head coach Kim Staudinger will happily take the improved defensive performance.
"Three errors and two mental mistakes, I'll take that," Staudinger said. "We usually make double that in games."
The defensive improvement could be credited to a pair of factors, according to Staudinger. The first factor was Havre's shabby and inconsistent defense in four losses at last weekend's Belgrade Invitational. The second factor was that it was her teams' third and final home game.
"They know that we let a couple games get away from us in Belgrade because of our defense," Staudinger said. "I think they felt they had something to prove, especially since it was our last home game. Since we don't have many home games, everybody wants to play well when we do."
But it wasn't just Havre's defense that was clicking, the bats came alive as well.
Havre pounded out nine hits and didn't have a batter strikeout against Glasgow's pitcher Kimberly Fallon.
"That's even better considering how many people we had strikeout in Belgrade," Staudinger said. "We did a lot of hitting on Monday and hit right before the game which I think helped us."
Havre's bat came to life in the bottom of the second with the team trailing 1-0. Kelsey Evans led off the inning by reaching on an error and later scored on a single from Katie McLeod. A walk and a Glasgow error set up a pair of runners in scoring position for Sjanetee D'Hooge, who promptly delivered a clutch single up the middle. Laura Zentmire capped off the inning with a two-run double to give Havre a 5-1 lead.
Glasgow didn't stay down long, scoring four runs off pitcher Kristin Evanson in the ensuing inning to knot the game at five. A three-base error on a single by Tarin Bell and back-to-back walks hurt Havre in the inning.
Havre retook the lead two innings later as Brittany Callahan spanked an inside the park home run and Kaci Owens and Kristin Evanson added run-scoring singles. Havre tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth as Owens drew a walk and later scored on a passed ball.
After a few shaky innings, Evanson settled in, holding Glasgow scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings with a little help from her defense, including a pair of solid plays at shortstop from Evans.
"Kristin came back well," Staudinger said. "She looked a little tired there for awhile and I wasn't even planning on starting her today. But she wanted the ball. She wasn't as sharp as she has been, but she just made them hit the ball and did what she had to do."
Still even with a 9-5 lead, Glasgow managed to make things interesting in its final at-bat. A pair of lead-off singles got things going. Evanson struck out Glasgow's Fallon to get a much needed out, but then surrendered another walk and a two-run single to Erica Dornick. But with her team clinging to a 9-7 lead, Evanson bore down to strike out Brittni Alsberg and then Stacie Rice to end the game.
Evanson allowed six earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work while striking out seven Glasgow batters.
But for the most part, Glasgow was able to put the ball in play off her. The good thing was that Havre's defense responded.
"Glasgow hit the ball," Staudinger said. "They forced us to make plays defensively and we were able to do that for the most part."
Havre had eight players notch hits, with D'Hooge and Evans picking up two each. D'Hooge, Zentmire and Callahan had two RBIs each in the win.
The win improved Havre's record to 3-6 on the season. The club team will travel to Browning on Thursday for games at 3 and 5 p.m. Havre's game against Shelby on Saturday has been postponed to a later date.
Glasgow 104 000 2 - 7 6 7
Havre 051 300 X - 9 10 3
Kimberly Fallon (LP) and Jess Vold; Kristin Evanson (WP) and Kim Collins (3), Mandy Boyce.
GLASGOW - Tarin Ball 2-3; Chelsie Pattison 0-3; Kimberly Fallon 0-3; Jess Vold 2-2; Erica Dornick 2-4; Brittni Alsberg 0-4; Stacie Rice 1-4;
Jessica Dekado 0-2; Amanda Engstrom 0-3.
HAVRE - Kim Collins 0-2; Mandy Boyce 0-2; Sjanetee D'Hooge 2-5 (2 RBI); Laura Zentmire 1-4 (2 RBI); Brittany Callahan 1-3 (2 RBI); Kelsey Evans 2-4; Whitney Schwan 0-2; Kaci Owens 1-2 (RBI); Katie McLeod 1-4 (RBI); Whitney Barnekoff 1-4; Kristin Evanson 1-3 (RBI)
2B - Zentmire, Rice
3B - none
HR - Callahan